KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica’s Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, says the effects of the economic downturn have only made Jamaica’s persistent fiscal problems worse.
“Our fiscal problems, made worse by the current crisis, are merely the symptom of deeper, more fundamental problems that have long bedeviled us,” the Prime Minister said.
Mr. Golding explained that the country has suffered chronic indebtedness, so that for the last 10 years, Jamaica’s interest costs and principal repayments have exceeded total revenues. “For this year, our interest costs and total revenue are estimated at $310 billion,” the Prime Minister told the House early this morning (September 30), following approval of the Supplementary Estimates by the Standing Finance Committee.
The unaffordable cost of government, which include wages and salaries, travelling and subsistence, pensions, utilities and rental of property and equipment, was also cited by the Prime Minister, as another constant fiscal problem.
“Our export earnings have been cut in half, due largely to the shutdown of a large portion of the bauxite/alumina sector. Some 30,000 people have lost their jobs; others have seen a decline in their earnings.
Remittances which support so many families have dropped by 15 per cent. The result is that almost every category of revenue collection is below what we had projected and in some instances below even what was collected last year,” Mr. Golding explained.
He added that the shortfall in revenue collections is projected at $13.4 billion for this fiscal year and as a result, the fiscal deficit had to be modified upwards from 5.5 per cent to 8.7 per cent.
The Prime Minister said that the Jamaican people are shafted by the persistent problems, as “they are never able to see a commensurate return in the delivery of government services, such roads, water supplies, good quality education and health services.” This, he said, cannot continue as changes and adjustments must be made.